IBJOpinion

Governor will damage public schools

March 5, 2011
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IBJ Letters To The Editor

Things are getting crazy as state resources diminish. Our governor is clearly out of touch with reality. He wants to abolish the 1:600 ratio for elementary school counselors to students on top of drastically cutting back state-supported mental-health programs.

As the nuclear family continues to erode, Mitch Daniels has increased expectations and pressured schools to perform at higher levels. He believes that paying teachers bonuses for performance will increase student achievement. Not accurate, says a 2010 study by Vanderbilt University.

If anything, Gov. Daniels’ idea will foster a negative undercurrent in schools that decreases teacher collaboration. If there is to be bonus pay, it would only make sense to reward individual schools for “student growth.” This approach would increase subject-level collaboration and put healthy pressure on teachers to stay up with best practices.

Another proactive way he can accomplish his educational goals would be to extend the instructional day for low-achieving, at-risk students. This would require current financial resources to increase, which in the end would be a good use of funds, compared to people dropping out of school and having little chance at obtaining and keeping a good job. There is no easy way around the challenges we face. Either we become proactive and reach out further to students who struggle, or reactive and pay later to rehabilitate those who fail and/or drop out of society.

Mitch Daniels is interested in only one thing: increasing his ego and power by positioning himself to run for national office. Soon he will begin testing the water, trying to convince people that he is the man for the job because his state’s budget is balanced. Having a balanced budget may be a true statement, but has it been accomplished in a responsible way?

There is growing concern that Gov. Daniels’ intense push to overhaul Indiana’s education system seems to originate from a small group of special-interest groups. One such special-interest group is Patrick Byrne, chairman and president of Overstock.com, and also chairman of the Indianapolis-based Foundation for Educational Choice. Campaign-finance records show that Byrne, a Utah resident, donated at least $125,000 to Daniels since 2007 in addition to $15,000 for State Superintendent Tony Bennett. Byrne also gave $200,000 to Hoosiers for Economic Growth, which is a PAC that helped support GOP candidates last fall.

It is critical that people from all political points of view question our governor’s agenda. Clearly his educational policies are lacking in supportive data and unfortunately are currently blindly being followed down party lines.
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Thomas Terrell

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  • Vouchers/teachers
    Thank you for supporting vouchers. You said, "Either we become proactive and reach out further to students who struggle, or reactive and pay later to rehabilitate those who fail and/or drop out of society." This lies at the heart of vouchers, allowing children who need a different school or educational environment to get what they need to succeed, wherever that may be. Far better to allow a child to go to a school that is right for that child than for us to say it's okay for the child to fail, and then pay the costs of that child's failure through incarceration costs, etc. As for teacher merit pay, isn't this about professionalizing the teaching profession and getting it away from the union's factory mentality that treats every teacher as a number instead of a professional? Seems to me that only those who fear personal evaluation of their work would oppose financial recognition for a job well done.
  • Where's the research?
    Thank you, Mr. Thomas Terrell! As a current IPS public school teacher I couldn't agree more! The lack of research to back up much of what so many politicians are trying to shovel to the citizens of our state just isn't there! I applaud Vanderbilt for actually researching the lack of connection between teacher salaries and achievement. It is unfair and inapppropriate to assume that teachers are only putting forth the effort that is in proportion to what we are paid! Honestly! Who has time to figure THAT out?! I give above and beyond every day as do most of those whom I teach with. People need to know that teachers are generally not impacted by dollars in their paychecks - many of us would never make it to our first day of class if that were the case! What we ARE motivated by is the joy of making a difference and in helping kids be the best they can be. It's a tough fight and most of us are too busy doing the right thing to stop and deliver that message, but it is true. Thank you, IBJ!
  • AMEN!
    As a former public school teacher, I can't thank you enough for shining light on this horrible legislation. It is purely politically motivated and will demolish the public schools. It seems like most of the reporting on this has been just scraping the surface and people don't really understand the implications. If we allow these bills to pass, Indiana will sink to the bottom in public school performance. I fear for the future of Indiana.
  • AMEN!
    As a former public school teacher, I can't thank you enough for shining light on this horrible legislation. It is purely politically motivated and will demolish the public schools. It seems like most of the reporting on this has been just scraping the surface and people don't really understand the implications. If we allow these bills to pass, Indiana will sink to the bottom in public school performance. I fear for the future of Indiana.
  • Thank You
    Thank you, Thomas! I've shared this on facebook. I've been digging up a lot of shady info on Daniels and the charters for articles I've been writing. Look me up on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/?sk=lf#!/profile.php?id=100002046218779

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